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You might be doing everything in your power to keep the children in your life healthy. But have you thought about whether or not the car seat they are riding in is bacteria-free? CEO and Founder of BuckleBath Lauren Siclare created a service to help parents, caregivers and daycare centers solve this messy problem. She sat down with Jessica Abo to share her journey and her advice for other entrepreneurs.
Lauren, can you start by telling us what was going on in your own life when you came up with this idea for BuckleBath.com
Lauren Siclare: At my daughter’s school, when you do car line, one of the teachers takes her out. Our house is perfectly clean. She was dressed in an adorable pink dress; and as the teacher’s taking her out, crumbs are falling out, and I’m mortified. I’m saying, “How could this happen?”
I had that “aha” moment, where I realized the crumbs were coming from the back of her car seat. I quickly went online and searched for a service that would come to my driveway and clean my daughter’s car seat, and nothing came up. I thought to myself, “How does this service not exist? There are millions of children.” And as I was actually looking for a company to clean my daughter’s car seat, what came up was the fact that children’s car seats have more germs than a toilet seat. So, we specialize in cleaning those car seats and making them look like new, but we follow car seat manufacturer guidelines to ensure that they are sanitized as well.
How does your company work?
Our appointments are made online through our website, bucklebath.com. You can schedule and pay for your appointment. The day of your appointment, the cleaning associate will text you a reminder, and an adorable pink van will pull in your driveway.
We have two offerings: One is our contactless service, which we’re doing more of during the pandemic. You leave your gear outside. Or we will clean in your car, so you don’t have to remove your car seat. That’s usually about a 40-minute service per car seat. At the end of the appointment, the cleaning associate will text the person who scheduled the appointment and say, “We’re all done. We’re all set.” In some cases, the parents come out and take a look and are amazed by what a great job the team did. In other cases, it’s busy parents that are inside working, and they’re like, “Thanks so much.” And they check it later.
What role did you play in getting this off the ground?
Let’s start with actually purchasing the commercial van. I took an Uber to the sales lot and knew that the only way home was by purchasing a commercial vehicle. I had called ahead to make sure they had the car that I wanted. And then I get on the highway. I’m driving this extremely large van thinking to myself, “This is it. I have to make this work. I’ve just purchased a commercial van.” And I knew there would be more commercial vans thereafter.
I think the key piece is figuring out the how. Once you have the van, you have to figure out, “How can I ensure I’m offering a service that’s convenient, and I have it fully equipped with everything I need.” At least five mechanics told me, “No, you cannot put a power source in a commercial van that will enable you to use three commercial-grade vacuums at the same time. You can’t do this. It’s not going to work.” So, when you’re creating a business or you’re creating a service, hearing “no” over and over and over again, I had learned, is very common. You just have to figure out a different way to do it.
The really fun part was, initially, when we launched, myself being out there with the cleaning associates rolling up my sleeves, cleaning other kids’ vomit, experiencing what it’s like to actually do this day in and day out, because that’s how you learn. If you’re not literally rolling up your own sleeves and taking care of the “figuring out” once you’re launched into market, you’re not going to learn as much.
How did you bring Bucklebath.com to market?
We decided to launch at a community event where we set up shop. Our app was ready to go to take appointments. And we had, within the first five minutes, a line of 15 parents who wanted to make appointments once they realized what we did. We booked all of our appointment slots within the first five minutes of being at a community event. Then, the same week, a mom who had our service posted on a Facebook page about Bucklebath, and there were 123 comments about how needed this service was and what a brilliant idea it was. So we knew very quickly that we were going to need to expand, grow our team and buy more vans.
What is next for you?
What’s next for us is to franchise and be able to have Bucklebath for all of the caretakers, parents, daycare centers that have already requested Bucklebath, but we’re not there yet.
How do you work with daycare centers?
We partner with daycare centers to offer our services on-site in their parking lots. So think about your daughter. You drop her off at daycare in the morning. You would leave her car seat there. We’re able to do a large-scale 30 to 50 car seats in a day at the daycare center. You come back to pick her up after work, and you get your car seat, and then you pick up your daughter.
What’s your number one piece of advice for someone out there who has an idea but they haven’t started doing the research, and they have no idea how they’re going to execute the concept that they have in their head?
The key three things to think about when you’re creating a new product or service is the target market. In our case, there’s 20 million children under the age of five in the U.S. That’s a lot of messy car seats. Then you think about longevity. How long can this business be? In our case, there’s always going to be children born and new moms and messy car seats. Then, you want to think about what problem it’s solving. In our case, we’re helping children to ride healthier in their car, but we’re also providing a service that is convenient for busy parents and caretakers.